It can be very frustrating and demoralizing to search endlessly for a job and not find one. That's the reality, unfortunately, of this post-recession job market. Common sense would tell you that well-qualified, credentialled, experienced teachers should be able to find a teaching job in fairly short order, say 90-120 days, right? Wrong. That's the sad truth about the current economic conditions. Here's why.
Many school districts have cut teaching positions.
It has been hard to avoid hearing reports in both national and local media about cutbacks in public school district teaching staffs. Public school districts depend on real estate taxes for most of their revenues. They also expect their state legislatures to contribute additional funding. However, these traditional sources of revenue have been shrinking at an alarming rate. Even with the usual kind of accounting maneuvers, such as delaying expenditures for maintenance projects and upgrades of systems and infrastructure, school districts still find themselves in the uncomfortable and extremely unpopular position of having to cut teaching positions. Increasing class size is another outcome of these financially hard times.
As a result, thousands of teachers are actively looking for jobs. TMarket conditions have intensified the competition for the limited number of jobs available in both the public and private school sectors.
Colleges and universities have reduced their teaching staffs.
A quick scan of Inside Higher Ed will reveal the tough employment environment in higher education. If you are tenured faculty, hopefully, you still have a job. But many colleges and universities have reduced their teaching staffs wherever they can. That also means eliminating entire departments, in particular, departments which are not considering relevant to producing graduates who have the skills employers consider necessary in today's job market. Simply put, colleges are not hiring full-time lecturers and professors, especially in the more traditional academic fields such as philosophy, classics, and history. They prefer to hire adjunct or part-time faculty to do most of their teaching.
As a result, hundreds of university and college lecturers are looking for work in the K-12 education market. Many of these professionals offer the kind of credentials which private schools look for when they hire additional faculty.
Professionals are making career changes.
Many professionals who have been laid off from their jobs in the corporate arena are looking at teaching as a possible alternative career. While they often have credentialling issues which must be resolved, many of these people have the kind of skills and experience which makes them attractive to private schools. This further adds to the glut of jobseekers.
Many private schools are struggling to stay afloat.
As with the colleges and universities, private K-12 schools have generally experienced a drop-off in donations. The value of their endowment funds, has, in many cases, remained flat or declined. This assumes, of course, that schools had an endowment in the first place. Many schools survive on their tuition income. This practice gives them very little cushion against any financial shortfall.
Try these job search strategies for tough times.
I can hear some of you reading the following list and thinking "I don't do social media." My response to that attitude is a heartfelt "Good luck!" You may not like social media, but social media is an important tool in any job search these days.
- Network constantly. That means every day. An email or a text takes only a few minutes to write and send. It will be appreciated, and the favor will be returned in most cases.
- Use LinkedIn to cast your net as widely as possible. We often think of LinkedIn as social media strictly for business. It is that, but the ancillary professional categories have grown exponentially as job-seekers and employers have realized the value of networking. Join the relevant affinity groups on LinkedIn. Participate in the conversations. Tip: post a professional headshot on LinkedIn, not a photo of you at the beach or drinking a beer.
- Use ISED-L for niche networking within the private school community.
- Join in the conversation. Don't just lurk. Don't flame either. Participate thoughtfully, always positioning yourself as a colleague and a team player.
- Look for jobs at the local, regional and national levels.
- Find out about local job openings by maintaining a list of private schools in your area. Use this site which has a zip code search facility to help you organize this task.
- Bookmark and visit the state and regional private school associations' websites frequently to check for any new job listings.
- The Klingenstein Job Bank is one of the best in the private school arena. Check it daily.
- The NAIS Annual Conference is also an important interviewing and hiring event. Employers want to meet you. They need to meet you. Plan to attend this event if you are serious about finding a teaching job in a private school.
- Register with a teacher placement agency. Teacher placement agencies enjoy the confidence of private schools. When they send you for an interview, even though you will be one of several people being interviewed, at least you will have gotten a foot in the door. The rest is up to you.
I was unemployed once years ago. It was a terrifying experience. I also worked once for a school which had severe financial problems. Being paid in cash is something I will never forget. The lesson which came out of those experiences is one which cannot be taught in college. It was a lesson in coping and handling a tough situation.
That's what you have to do. Cope with your job search. Handle it. Don't dwell on all the horrible, negative aspects of your situation. Make a list of everything which is good and positive. When you look in the mirror every day, say "I am a good person, and I will succeed." Then go out and find that job you are looking for. Don't stop or give up until you find it.
Questions? Contact me on Twitter. @privateschl